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Feature Request - ALARM


Richard Hamilton
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Richard Hamilton

I have not had trouble in over 10 years with my display being stolen or vandelized, but every few years someone tries. I have taper sensors on my equipment, but I am realizing there is probably a better and simpler way to solve this problem than what I have done. The sad fact it that vandelism and theft is always going to be a problem.

Yesterday, a few local LOR users out here were discussing theft protection and they asked about my method. As I thought about it more today (after seeing the sensors being discontinued that I use), another thought occured to me. Slap me silly if this is too stupid or already been discussed. I did not see anything related to this idea when I searched the forum.

Dan/LOR folks. Have you considered putting in a feature that sounds an alarm (wav file) on the computer when connection is lost to the controllers? Whether they are wired or wireless, you must be communicating bi-directionally with controllers because your hardware configuration program has ability to display controllers that it finds. Would it not be simple to regularly poll controllers (defined by the user) with a watchdog timer to see if communication is constant? If it fails, sound an alarm in the show scheduler software or some other program that can run as a service in Windows. This would alert someone in the house that potentially nasty things are going on outside.

This might even be useful during setup of contollers to be sure everything is working properly and continues working during a show. Otherwise a user has no idea if something is not functioning.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts and ideas on this.

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I think that's a great idea!!

It might take some implementing and working with to get setup properly, but I think it is worth the investigation.

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Guest wbottomley

That could be possible now with the MP3 Director card. If all pins loop through each controller then ones not being used would work.

Let's say pins 1 & 2 are not used. On the last controller you would make certain 1 & 2 are connected. At the director card, there's 2 connectors. On one of them, take the wires from 1 & 2 and connect 1 to an input trigger and 2 to ground. When programming that trigger, make certain it's programmed to "normally open." When someone breaks a network connection, it will trip that trigger and play a musical animation or an animation.

So it's possible now.

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greenie95125

I use a German Shephard dog, but he eats way more than a .38. :cool:



--Mike

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Richard Hamilton

Mountainwxman wrote:

That could be possible now with the MP3 Director card. If all pins loop through each controller then ones not being used would work.

Let's say pins 1 & 2 are not used. On the last controller you would make certain 1 & 2 are connected. At the director card, there's 2 connectors. On one of them, take the wires from 1 & 2 and connect 1 to an input trigger and 2 to ground. When programming that trigger, make certain it's programmed to "normally open." When someone breaks a network connection, it will trip that trigger and play a musical animation or an animation.

So it's possible now.

Just to be clear, I am talking about an alarm condition for the LOR controllers, not the MP3 Director card. My suggestion does not require any looping or using of unused pins.
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Richard Hamilton wrote:

Mountainwxman wrote:
That could be possible now with the MP3 Director card. If all pins loop through each controller then ones not being used would work.

Let's say pins 1 & 2 are not used. On the last controller you would make certain 1 & 2 are connected. At the director card, there's 2 connectors. On one of them, take the wires from 1 & 2 and connect 1 to an input trigger and 2 to ground. When programming that trigger, make certain it's programmed to "normally open." When someone breaks a network connection, it will trip that trigger and play a musical animation or an animation.

So it's possible now.

Just to be clear, I am talking about an alarm condition for the LOR controllers, not the MP3 Director card. My suggestion does not require any looping or using of unused pins.

I think you both are talking about two different, but equally functional methods. One is active in that it would require some monitoring of the communications between the boxes and the host. The other is passive, as it simple looks for a break in the circuit. If there are at least two unused wires in the RS485 chain, then William's method will work better in my case, because I power down all boxes each night, so there would be no communications occurring.

DavBro
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Richard Hamilton

DavBro wrote:

I think you both are talking about two different, but equally functional methods. One is active in that it would require some monitoring of the communications between the boxes and the host. The other is passive, as it simple looks for a break in the circuit. If there are at least two unused wires in the RS485 chain, then William's method will work better in my case, because I power down all boxes each night, so there would be no communications occurring.

DavBro



Right, we are talking about two different approaches. Thanks for pointing that out.

Just from curiosity, why do you unply the controllers at night?
I leave mine powered for the whole season. Small amount of power being using when not driving a load.
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Peace of mind I guess. The whole house is wired for x10, so it is very easy to create a timed macro to turn them all on 5 minutes prior to the show start, and off 5 minutes after the show ends. If they are powered off, they are not likely to catch spikes.

Also it allows me to remotely power down from another computer (or even from my cell phone). Call me a control freak.

DavBro

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Guest wbottomley

Mountainwxman wrote:

"normally open."

I want to make a correction... It would need to be normally closed, not normally open.
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  • 9 months later...

When Dan announced LOR at PLUS 2003 one of the proposed features was a "network monitor". He promoted it as a way to tell if, for example, a GFCI tripped. Basically the monitor software (presumably part of the show controller) would ping each controller occasionally and if it didn't get a reply back, set an alert condition of some sort (theoretically, could be an email, or even trigger a hard alarm via X-10 or some such).

Obviously this would help if someone physically disconnected a controller as well.

I'd like to see that actually implemented...

-Tim

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  • 3 months later...

I am selling and alarm system that goes on the controls one end from the pc into the alarm and the output to the first control. there is a plug that goes in the last control to return the signal to the alarm. If the line is opened anywhere between the alarm and the last control the alarm will sound until it is turned off. I am selling the unit for $70 plus shipping if anybody is wanting one pm me, paypal is accepted only and will be shipped out once payment is received and mailing address is confirmed. The alarm can be viewd and watched at youtube under user Lowinhz
pm if questions or wanting one

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Ok can this get any more complicated?

Why not get a couple of garage door sensors and hook a 12 volt car horn up to them. Get the horn out of the junk yard.

Or if you want a couple of cheap motion detector flood lights. Hack one of the lights and attach a wire that runs back to your bedroom and turns on a light in there.

Or maybe just motion detectors and one of those nice cheap sirens from Radio Shack.

Personally I would like to see the boards simple and more stuff through the programs.

For example do you know how time consuming it is to install new firmware on 40 controllers? Neither do I as I have not done it in five years!!!

Not sure about all of you guys but if you paint those boxes black make them ugly instead of looking like they are important the chances of theft are small. I mean I work hard at making my controller boxes look bad. I drive rebar a couple of feet in the ground. Attach a piece of 2 X 8 with conduit clamps and then screw the boxes on the wood. Then zip tie the boxes shut. Paint them flat black, maybe some flat green. You cannot see them at night and they look like electric boxes during the day. Very bad electric boxes.

Me I want to protect the blowmolds, wire frames, and inflatables. Lots more invested in that stuff.

Just my $0.02

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Jeff Millard wrote:

It only took programming the firmware Dan released for NC contacts to one board. And making two simple cables with a header to plug into an input on the same controller.

I would then assume that this controller must be located in a secure location.
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I like this method - WTG!!!

Now a small market to sell these predone for the non DIYer's.

I think I will use this season and have it send me an email like I do for show status.

Harrison

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Dennis Cherry

I have a question: The picture is showing the 8 pin plug used for Cat5/6 network cables but the wire looks like Satin Ribbon Cable. This is not twisted pair cable per Cat5/6 specifications.

I used this once in a network and had nothing but troubles with data errors, once removed and the proper twisted pair cable installed and the errors went away.

As for your alarm idea, it really rocks.

Thanks for posting the pictures.

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Dennis Cherry

Thanks for clarifying that, did not want others to get the wrong idea about using the Silver Satin Cord.



Jeff Millard wrote:

Thanks Harrison. Feel free to make some up and send them out. But we oughta wait to see if the firmware and software updates make the NC selectable sometime soon... ...and do feel free to share the info on how you'll get it to email you. I have that on my cell, and as soon as I can change email addresses to stop all the spam... I'd love to have that item added to the list of things this will do.

Dennis. I've used these cables in short runs (under 2') for my control cases for three years. I wouldn't suggest using this type of wire for long connections. I used it for these pictures just to clarify what is being done.

Jeff

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If I remember correctly, last time this idea came up, it was mentioned that the unused pins were NOT looped on some of the versions of the controller. In the case of those controllers, you would need to provide a loop for those pins between the 2 RJ-45 jacks. I was thinking of accomplishing this by just extending the jacks from the board to a dual RJ45 wallmount jack box and looping the connections there. If that is all looped, then you can pull the wires out just before they get to the computer inside...those wires will run to my house alarm system as a spare input there that is set for 24/7 alarm. I'll install a switch to short out the wires at the alarm panel for if I'm going to unplug controllers outside. The alarm system already sends me emails using HomeSeer. I have a DIY alarm from (GE NX-8). They make a serial interface card that is supported in HomeSeer. HomeSeer then has a plugin for the NX-8 panels that allows you to monitor and control the panel. HomeSeer then generates the email to tell me the alarm went off. As long as my phone line is not cut, the email goes out the DSL and hits my cell phone.

Just another idea...

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I would like to see some time of alarm built into the software where it would monitor all the time. We have to keep our machines on all the time so why not let the software monitor it and activate all the lights, alarms, send text messages to cell phones numbers. fire off automatic weapons, explosives. Ok the last few are out of hand but it would be funny.

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Actually that brings up a good point - since the most recent version implemented the ability to run a Windows command - you can actually fire off an email from the alarm sequence. There are command line programs out there that will send an email. That may be better than what I was thinking about doing!

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Agreed. I would think that it would be easier for all concerned to simply have the software itself monitor the hardware. Almost all of my controllers are in the yard and it really worries me of the potential loss because they aren't protected.

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